The Top Show of 2011

1.1.11 (Chris LaJaunie)

Only one show into the new year, and we’ve already got a keeper. Was anybody surprised? On New Year’s Day, Phish dropped a top-to-bottom smoker with one of the outstanding second sets of this era in which the improv never stopped. Crafting a slick setlist to cap the run, Phish tore MSG apart in their first hurrah of 2011, not to mention the first set, whose final four-song sequence also caught fire. In a not-so-bizarre case of prognostication, everyone in the building knew from long ago that this night would hold something special, and when Phish delivered so flagrantly, it made me think.

1.1.11 (A.Sepler)

Advertised separately on their website as “1.1.11,” the band began hyping this show before the holidays even began. And with that in mind, of course they came out and played a ripping show. This brings me to the question of Phish’s current intent when they step on stage, something that I’ve been pondering since the end of this show. In my opinion, the band has now reached a level of proficiency where they can play a two sets at that level at almost any time (once they’ve got a few shows under their belt). But what determines when they decide to go big? Sure, they band was “on” on January 1st, but they have been “on” for quite some time now with very few inconsistencies. And while Phish killed the entire set with tight jams galore, but for one piece of transcendent music in “Simple,” its not like they were throwing down mind-numbing magic; they were giving each jam the creative attention it deserved without concern for what was coming next—something that hasn’t always happened. They were playing with the carefree energy and focus that characterized several nights this fall, and they were doing with the support of a well-crafted, non-stop setlist. Hence we all freaked, and rightfully so, Phish played a stellar show by anyone’s standards. But in terms of start-to-finish shows, why only on the first (and for one full set on New Year’s Eve)?

Many say that Phish alters their type of show to access different sectors of their fan base. But to that I ask, “Was anyone you encountered after 1.1.11 disappointed that the band jammed too much in the second set?” Doubtful. Everyone left Madison Square Garden exactly how Phish wanted them to—jacked to the sky over the best show of the five-night run. Perhaps this possible “premeditation” took place because of a pre-planned New Year’s Run that Phish wanted to end with a bang. But why don’t they come out and play all killer, no filler second sets more often, when that’s—empiracally—what everybody wants to hear?

1.1.11 (C. La Jaunie)

Others may say that the band can’t just turn IT on and play like they did on the 1st whenever they want. But what about the previous four shows when every time the band took an improvisational risk—approximately once a night—they found, arguably, the best jams of 2010 in Worcester’s “Harry Hood,” and “Seven Below,” and Madison Square Garden’s “Ghost.” Additionally, the band also took “Tweezer” on its most exploratory jaunt of the year. My point is, Phish did seemingly, turn it on at a moments notice over the New Year’s Run, and they did so with ease and overwhelming success. Surrounding these musical treasures with various song sequences, each stood alone as the shining star of their particular show. But on New Year’s Day, Phish decided to improvise passionately all night long instead of in fifteen minute bursts— something not so outlandish, but had profound effect.

1.1.11 (Masthay)

On January 1st, Phish didn’t play the best show of their life, but they certainly played one of the most impressive shows of the this era. The band chose a great setlist, but we all know that setlists, alone, don’t make a show. With cohesive jamming throughout, Phish underlined the night with a smooth second half in which each song got full and proper treatment. But was there ever any doubt? Was it was any “harder” for Phish to play a show like January 1st than it was to play any other on the run? I’m not sure. I do believe they intended to make 1.1 the best show of the run—and that they did. I believe that Phish can pretty much do what they intend to do onstage these days; it’s not like the turning of the calendar gave them magical jamming powers. So why wouldn’t they play shows like that throughout the holiday run?

I’m not trying to downplay 1.1.11 at all; I absolutely loved the show. But let’s hope that when we are making best of 2011 lists, we’ll remember January 1st as a show that raised the bar for the year, and not one of its greatest moments.

I: My Soul, Tube, Runaway Jim, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, The Divided Sky, Round Room, Walk Away, Gotta Jibboo, Reba > Walls of the Cave

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Twist, Simple, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Makisupa Policeman > David Bowie

E: Fee, Frankenstein

=====

Jam of the Day:

“Bathtub Gin” 7.3.10 I

Another peak at the now-available remasters courtesy of Phish Inc.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Bathtub-Gin-promo-edit.mp3]

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

3.20.1992 Broome County Forum, Binghamton, New York

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

3.20.1992 (Unknown)

One of my favorite Spring ’92 shows, this SBD was highly circulated back in the analog era. With two sets of early-school fire, and a top-shelf. early-90’s “Antelope,” I highly suggest pulling this show if its not already in your stash.

I: Wilson, Reba, Brother, Glide, Rift, Fluffhead, Maze, The Lizards, Mound, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sanity, The Sloth, The Mango Song, Cavern, Uncle Pen, Harry Hood, Cold as Ice > Terrapin > Cold as Ice, Possum > Secret Language Instructions > Possum

E: Lawn Boy, Fire

Source: SBD

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598 Responses to “The Top Show of 2011”

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  1. The Light Between Says:

    I would argue that the second set of New Year’s Eve was comporable in flow and execution to the second set of 1.1.11. Sure, the third set lagged a little, and was a little short, but that’s normal for a New Year’s.
    I’m just relistening to Guyutica for the first time since right after it occurred, which is making me think of what I was thinking while watching the 1.1 show on the ppv. Certain shows right now feel like certain eras, to me. For instance, the way they play with time in the Utica Antelope, as well as certain sections of the Split, and just the feel of the show, with all the teases and bouncing between songs, totally feels to me like a 95 type show.
    The second set of 1.1 felt to me like a 99 type show as I was watching it. Looking to stretch for the sake of stretching. I don’t know if I have articulated this well enough to make sense, but that’s my problem right there.

  2. The Light Between Says:

    Oh yeah, and I did like your write-up Miner. And I feel you made your point pretty well. I just feel like the whole New Year’s run was so solid, that 1.1 wasn’t exactly leaps and bounds better than any other show, although it was probably my favorite as well. Granted, I have only listened again to pieces of the second set again, and not the whole show in its entirety, since I saw it at the time, so I may have forgotten some moments.

  3. buddysmyles Says:

    So if 1.1.11 was included in your top ten Mr. Miner where would it have placed? As always keep up the great work!

  4. willowed Says:

    I know we beat this topic up a little while back. I am sure this will spark some great communication today.
    Can’t wait to read the posts.
    Nice work Miner!
    I have to run to work and I will elaborate on this later but here we go:

    I absolutely don’t think they can turn it on and off like you mentioned. You can’t turn on feelings and energy and open communication. Sometimes it connects, sometimes it doesn’t.
    Before a big game a gifted pro athletes want to play his best. They do their routine and get ready. They have every intention of blowing the roof off the stadium. Sometimes things just don’t click. They don’t chose “not” to play well. Does Josh Becket try to throw poorly when he steps on the mound? No way. That day it just didn’t click.

    I am sure the boys go thru this stuff as well. Not only that, they need to feed off eachother in order for it to be magical. All 4 need to click in unison, not just one.

    That’s my 2 cents. I look forward to hearing the views.

  5. willowed Says:

    and I know I said this once before.

    Yes there were tours that delivered magic night in and night out. But I do not recall ever, in the history of this band that every show, every song, every night delivered outerworldy magic. Pick a show and I will find a filler song. Pick a tour and I will find an off show. Let me also say that an off song and an off show by these guys is btter than a great show form any other band. I hope I don’t come across as hating. I am in NO way doing that.
    Sometimes I think we look back to the mid 90’s and think that every show every night was magic. These little “off” shows and songs have been around since the birth of Phish.

  6. st8 of mind Says:

    My hypothesis on this subject is that the band is rehearsing certain songs and possibly entire sets before tour. Then they drop songs that they have been rehearsing in key areas of each show, and they decide which show or two they want to go big at and they drop the rehearsed sets at those shows. I have thought about that a lot since the return and that is my opinion. This is a great debatable subject right now. Thank you for bringing this to the surface Miner.

  7. kenny powers Says:

    repost from last night

    ————–
    anyone interested in my SBD leak compilation, i have newly updated links at the blog (click on my name). simpler now – one folder for the main compilation, and one folder for a newer “tier 2″ compilation with the lesser quality FM and web rips
    enjoy

  8. kenny powers Says:

    “I absolutely don’t think they can turn it on and off like you mentioned. You can’t turn on feelings and energy and open communication.”

    ^ this

    i think what happens sometimes the boys (or improv-based band) have a feeling going into a show, or maybe starting at sound check earlier that day, that they are in synch and really feeling each other musically. so perhaps as the actual show starts, they have a general feeling they’re about to turn it on, but the group energy that started earlier that day/night could not have been planned.

    or sometimes they might not even feel that energy and musical ESP until the lights go down.

  9. Selector J Says:

    Reminder:
    Reggae a gwaan. Click myname to start streaming.

  10. phoammhead Says:

    ^i agree with willowed

    i don’t agree that phish intended 1.1 to be the best show of the run

    i do believe they wanted it to be great . . . even special

    i believe they wanted 12.30 to be great . . . even special, too

    the boyz are definitely oh soooo back and it’s exciting to be along for the ride captain ride!

    i do believe that some nights don’t get quite the attention from the boyz as far as intents and choices go . . . not phoning in, but just not as much attention . . . and these shows also hit or miss, so to speak . . . and they have a bigger chance of “missing”, but i still want to be there

    if phish are playin’ an Austin City Limits type festi in my back door i want to be there, but i’m not expecting what i might otherwise hope for at a phish show

    the boyz are definitely able to crank it up higher at times

    there is the human element

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    “Let me also say that an off song and an off show by these guys is better than a great show form any other band.”-Willowed

    Let’s not get carried away here fellas… Come on

  12. kenny powers Says:

    @ duder

    you gonna try to snag one of those limited Europe ’72 sets? the price tag (while totally fair IMO) is a lot to handle at once, but for a true fan that thing looks pretty sweet, packaging and all.

    i know if Phish did that with one of their better tours from years back, i’d be tempted. and the Dead set is even more historical, with being from further in the past, older recordings lovingly touched up, etc.

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    I understand your passion willowed very well…

    But I think you might need to take a break from the Phish cool-aid

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    @ KP

    I would love one! My birthday is next month but I couldn’t ask for such an expensive present.

    I signed up for the pre-order notice thingy they put up after all the site-crashes last night. You don’t have to pay for it until it ships, so i started a Europe ’72 Box-Set change jar.

    Only 450,000 pennies and I’m there!

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    FYI:

    The pre-order seems to be working this morning!

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    I blame Mitch for my head state right now

  17. kenny powers Says:

    let’s remember, willowed is a self-described fluffer 🙂

    good luck with the savings El Dude. so you’d have to think with that Norman dude doing the whole thing and it being all from the same tour, it should be a pretty consistently sick quality sound-wise. nice!

  18. kenny powers Says:

    i love the sound of the Europe ’72 and HYH releases. little bit of hiss in there but i’d rather that then too much noise reduction affecting the actual music

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    16 track master reels… I think this will be unbelievably good!

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    We had a 5/04/72 listening party here yesterday…

    I’m hoping for a clarity that puts you about 15 rows back from the stage dead center in one of these 500 year old theaters/cathedrals

  21. phoammhead Says:

    i don’t know

    take any of the “bottom” 5 phish shows this year and i would have liked to have been at any one of them

    depending on who’s making the list of the bottom 5, i may have been at 1 or 2 and i can assure you i was happy to be there and have no regrets

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @kp
    are the updated ones available via torrent as well?

  23. kenny powers Says:

    @ t3

    not yet, hopefully i will have time tonight….i can’t access d e m o n at work and i have about a 2-hour window after work….we shall see.

  24. kenny powers Says:

    ok off to work y’all be back on laterz (as AW would say)

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @kp
    no rush, just curious. thanks!

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